David Austen - Starry starry nights (or a few astral weeks)

David Austen is featured as both artist and contributor to Starry starry nights (or a few astral weeks), a virtual selection of publically held works or 'curations' made by ArtUK during the coronavirus crisis.


Austen (whose own painting  On the Edge of Night  was selected by Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, Beth Bate) writes the following passage on his selction,  Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea ,1871 by Whistler:


… the whole city hangs in the heavens …

London dreams.

It is post-twilight. A crepuscular light from the moon, lit windows and fires reflect in the silver water. The air feels impregnated with mercury. A solitary man stands on the foreshore.

Recently, I have been riding my bicycle along the Thames—up to Richmond, down to Rotherhithe—often passing the location of this painting. I look up the timetable to take note of the low tides so I can mudlark on the exposed banks.

The watchful, but indifferent river feels to me in these peculiar times like the sentient ocean of the fictional planet Solaris. I imagine a vast black cloud gathering over London. A huge psychic force, dark and tumorous, settles and is subsumed by the water; the outgoing tide like a breathing lung bears it away to empty in the deep.

- David Austen, May 2020


Starry starry nights (or a few astral weeks) is devised and organised by Paul Bonaventura. The project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Visit the curations website here.

May 22, 2020